Saturday, September 20, 2014

CD Review: Ginger Berglund & Scott Whitfield sing "Solitary Moon", The Johnny Mandel Songbook

"Solitary Moon" is a major league tribute to one of the best composers of Jazz, Pop and Film Music, Johnny Mandel. He has long been recognized within the music industry as one of its creative giants yet, it has always been my belief that Johnny Mandel has never received the deserved level of credit from the music public. But make no mistake about it, the multitalented Mandel is equal to the best songwriters and musicians of the past 100 years.

This CD starts with a tribute to Johnny Mandel, but that is not where the magic ends. Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield could have recorded this CD with just the two of them, and I know this CD would have been terrific. However, Ginger and Scott chose to bring along some of the most respected musicians performing on the Jazz scene today. The result is a musical product that is close to perfection music and a musical treat for the ears.

Ginger Berglund has a sterling resume of work as a vocalist including recording with Steve Allen and the great pianist Paul Smith. She has sung with Kenny Rankin and the great Brazilian Jazz vocalist Flora Purim and her husband, the premiere fusion Jazz Percussionist Airto Moreira. Ginger still performs with the Stan Kenton Alumni Band, The Modernaires, The Tracy Wells Big Band and the Jumpin' Joz Band.

Scott Whitfield is a world class Trombonist, Arranger and Singer. He is internationally recognized for his work with many contemporary big bands, including the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, The Clare Fischer Bib Band, The Bill Holman Band, The Phil Norman Tentet and his own Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra. Whitfield also plays trombone for the Johnny Mandel Orchestra.

Ginger and Scott chose 15 tracks for this CD and Whitfield did all the arrangement from big band to small group, from vocal duets to a cappella five-part harmony.  Singing together they treat us with beautiful Mandel melodies and perfect harmonies that you will seldom hear today. They are perfect singing together! Both Berglund and Whitfield are also members of the Modernaires, the legendary vocal group that performed in the 1940's for The Glenn Miller Band. Whitman is also a member of the LAVA (Los Angeles Vocal Alliance), a new vocal group of brass players who sing in four-part harmony. They make their recording debut on Whitfield's version of the Mandel classic, "Emily".

I can't end this review without listing the superb list of musicians that contributed to this wonderful CD. I am sure that you will know many of them from their past work. Thank you Ginger and Scott for sharing your wonderful musical talents with us!

Ginger Berglund: Voice                     Scott Whitfield: Voice, Trombone, All arrangements
Corey Allen: Piano                            Jennifer Laitham: Bass
Kendall Kay: Drums                         Roger Neumann: Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Bass Clarinet
Rusty Higgins: Alto Sax, Flute, Alto Clarinet       Billy Kerr: Alto Sax
Pete Christieb: Tenor Sax, Clarinet   Nancy Newman: Bari Sax
Jamie Hovorke: Trumpet                   Carl Saunders: Trumpet
Ira Nepus: Trumbone                         Linda Small: Trombone
Rich Nullock: Bass Trombone           John Dickson: Horn
Stephanie O'Keefe: Horn


Ken Peplowski: Clarinet                    Don Shelton: Clarinet
Jack Peterson: Guitar                         Airto Moreira: Percussion

The Modernaires: Julie Dickson, Ginger Berglund, Jimmy Stephens, Joe Croyle, Scott Whitfield 

Lava: Jonathan Dane, Larry Williams, Scott Whitfield, Rich Bullock

I have attached a "YouTube" video of Ginger and Scott singing the first cut from "Solitary Moon"                                                      "Cinnamon & Clove".

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